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A diagnosis of undifferentiated schizophrenia is given when a patient has been exhibiting symptoms of schizophrenia, yet the symptoms don’t meet the criteria for disorganized, catatonic, or paranoid schizophrenia.
Essentially, undifferentiated schizophrenia is the “NOS” (not otherwise specified”) version of schizophrenia. (An “NOS” version is used in almost all other types of mental health disorders, such as “depressive disorder, NOS” or “personality disorder, NOS”). It’s clearly schizophrenia, but it doesn’t neatly fit any of the other types – hence the name “undifferentiated”.
According to the DSM, individuals with undifferentiated schizophrenia must exhibit symptoms for a month or more that meet “criterion A” for schizophrenia. Criterion A is comprised of the following.
With paranoid schizophrenia, auditory hallucinations and / or delusions are prominent. With disorganized schizophrenia, the salient symptoms are disorganized speech, inappropriate or blunted emotional expression, and severely disorganized behavior. And with catatonic schizophrenia, significant psychomotor disturbances are prominent. However, with undifferentiated schizophrenia, no particular symptom or set of symptoms listed above dominates the clinical picture.
As with all types of schizophrenia, the onset of symptoms prevents individuals with undifferentiated schizophrenia from functioning normally in one or more major areas of life. These areas include school, work, normal day-to-day tasks, relationships, and social interactions.
As with all types of schizophrenia, undifferentiated schizophrenia usually requires ongoing treatment with antipsychotic medication. Antipsychotic medications, such as Zyprexa or Risperdal, can help keep symptoms under control. They also help prevent the recurrence of future episodes. Other medications may also be beneficial if, for example, the patient is experiencing mood symptoms or symptoms of anxiety.
If prominent mood symptoms, such as depression or mania, are present, a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder or another mood disorder may be more appropriate - depending on the timeframe of the mood symptoms as well as other related factors.
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